Risks and Side Effects of Freebase Cocaine

freebase cocaine smoke

Maybe you heard a friend or loved one refer to “freebase cocaine” and you’re worried about their drug use. Or maybe you found the leftover remnants of a freebase cocaine laboratory in your loved one’s home. These things could be all be signs of freebase cocaine abuse, which is extremely risky and dangerous.

In this blog, we’ll provide more information about what freebase cocaine is, why it’s so risky, and how to address and treat freebase cocaine addiction.

What is Freebase Cocaine?

The term “freebase cocaine” refers to cocaine that has been processed with ammonia to extract the base of the drug. The flammable substance, Diethyl, is then used to dissolve the cocaine and remove it. The process of creating freebase cocaine is an extremely dangerous one because Diethyl is very flammable.1,2 As a result, someone who is unfamiliar with this process, or even a person who has done it before, could easily risk harming themselves or others.

How to Freebase Coke

Freebase cocaine is almost 100 percent pure. In this form, cocaine is not water soluble and it is not easy to inject or melt it either, so it is typically smoked. If you’re wondering how to freebase coke, most often, people who abuse this form of cocaine use a small glass pipe to inhale the vapors that are produced when the freebase cocaine is heated. There are also other methods of freebasing cocaine, but the use of a small pipe is the most common.

Freebase Cocaine Side Effects

People abuse cocaine in various ways, including snorting the powder form, swallowing it, rubbing it into their gums, injecting it, or using it with alcohol. Compared to these other methods of abuse, smoking freebase cocaine produces a much faster and intense high, and produces a strong euphoric rush almost immediately upon smoking it. For this reason, freebase cocaine is extremely addictive and many users binge on it to maintain their high for a longer period of time.3

Freebasing cocaine causes a fast and intense high, followed by a crash, which makes the user feel depressed, anxious, paranoid, irritable, and extremely tired. Immediate side effects of freebasing cocaine include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Pinpoint pupils

If a person abuses freebase cocaine regularly over a long period of time, he or she may also experience some of the following side effects:

  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Respiratory problems
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure or heart attack
  • Lung damage
  • Increased risk of developing multiple types of cancer4
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    Freebase Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

    Freebase cocaine is especially addictive, so many people who abuse this form of the drug often develop a tolerance and become addicted very quickly. Once they are addicted, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when the effects of the drug wear off.

    Freebase cocaine withdrawal symptoms often include:

    • Strong cocaine cravings
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Muscle pain
    • Exhaustion
    • Agitation
    • Increased appetite
    • Depression
    • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors4,5

    Freebase Cocaine vs. Crack Cocaine

    Although there is a slight difference between freebase cocaine and crack cocaine, they are essentially the same. There is a very scientific explanation for this, but the easiest way to explain it is that crack cocaine is produced by mixing cocaine with water and baking soda and freebase cocaine is produced via extraction with ammonia. Since crack cocaine is produced from the salt form of cocaine, it still contains impurities like leftover sodium bicarbonate. Freebase cocaine, on the other hand, is nearly 100 percent pure.6

    Dangers and Risks of Freebasing Cocaine

    Abusing any type of cocaine is dangerous, but freebasing cocaine comes with its own set of unique risks. Some of the most common risks of freebasing cocaine include:

    • Burns: People who smoke freebase cocaine have a higher risk of burning themselves on glass pipes or with matches and lighters. These burns often injure the person’s face or hands.
    • Lab explosions: As we mentioned earlier, the process of creating freebase cocaine is very dangerous and often results in fires or explosions. These violent eruptions can seriously injure or even kill someone.
    • Increased risk of tolerance and addiction: Since the effects of freebase cocaine have a very rapid onset and are much stronger than the effects of other methods of cocaine use, it’s much easier to develop a tolerance. This will make the user feel like they need more and more of the drug to get high and stay that way longer. When binging behaviors occur, the user can become addicted after just a few hits.7
    • Increased risk of injury: While under the influence of freebase cocaine, some people become aggressive and over-confident, which can lead them to do dangerous or risky things. This type of careless behavior can lead to physical injury or even death.
    • Increased risk of overdose: If a person is smoking freebase cocaine, the risk of overdose is much higher, especially with binging behaviors. A cocaine overdose can increase body temperature, cause seizures, or even result in heart failure and death. The risk of overdose is even higher if the person is abusing cocaine with alcohol or other drugs.

    Getting Help for Freebase Cocaine Addiction

    Although any and all cocaine use is dangerous, freebase cocaine addiction is especially risky and should be addressed right away. Many people may be hesitant to quit using freebase cocaine out of fear of the withdrawal experience, and understandably so.

    Cocaine withdrawal is scary, extremely uncomfortable, and can even deadly, so it’s absolutely necessary that you or a loved one completes detox under the medical supervision of a doctor. A medical professional will be able to recognize and treat cocaine withdrawal symptoms will also ensuring your safety and comfort.

    A medical detox program for freebase cocaine addiction can provide essential medical supervision while also addressing the psychological issues that are often associated with cocaine withdrawal, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

    If you or a loved one is suffering from freebase cocaine addiction, there’s no reason to wait before seeking help. Briarwood Detox Center can provide immediate detox help for freebase cocaine addiction and polysubstance abuse. Call today for more information or to speak with an admissions representative.


    1. https://www.verywellmind.com/cocaine-frequently-asked-questions-66710
    2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
    3. https://www.drugs.com/illicit/cocaine.html
    4. https://www.talktofrank.com/drug/cocaine
    5. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000947.htm
    6. https://archive.attn.com/stories/2643/crack-vs-cocaine
    7. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-drug-addiction/section-iv-action-cocaine/2-snorting-vs-smoking-cocaine-different-a

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